History 65

The Reagan Years

March 30, 2006


I. To the 1980 Election

1. Deregulation (theory and practice; air travel; energy; telecommunications; high-tech)


2. Backlash against Right-Related Liberalism (abortion, busing, Clark)


3. Democrats and 1980 (Kennedy and Brown weaknesses; Carter holds on)


II. The Reagan Revolution

            1. A New GOP Majority? (primary race: Bush surge, Connally collapse, Anderson defection, Reagan nomination; continuing weaknesses—age, radical reputation—Ford plan; Anderson effect; debates; Reagan Democrats; smashing GOP win—presidency, Senate—defeats of McGovern, Church, Nelson, Magnuson; part of international pattern?—Thatcher in Britain, Kohl in West Germany)


2. Domestic (implementing supply-side economics: tax cut, travails of David Stockman, growth of deficit, Social Security and 1982 elections; challenging the administrative state: role of thinktanks: Federalist Society, Cato Institute, AEI, and changing nature of legal culture; personnel: Gorsuch and EPA; Thomas and EEOC; Donovan and Labor; Watt and Interior)


3. National Security (personnel: Weinberger and defense buildup; Haig and hard-line anti-communism; Kirkpatrick, Helms, and new approach toward Third World; role of Casey; RR speechmaking—“evil empire,” KAL crisis; tilt toward executive power: AWACS sale; Lebanon, Grenada, and limitations of War Powers Act, fight against Clark amendment; Nicaragua background; debate over contra aid—“procedure-itis” and passage of Boland amendment; Casey and contempt of Congress; mining of Nicaragua’s harbors and Boland II)


4. Running Out of Steam (outside the RR economic agenda: Betamax, trade, immigration; Central America—effects of Iran/contra; world affairs—effects of Gorbachev; 1986 Senate elections and emergence of Mitchell; Reagan legacy?)